May 23, 2024

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Who is Lee Asher? Five things to know about American animal rescue icon.

6 min read

With a social media audience in the millions, Lee Asher is arguably one of the country’s most followed spokespeople for the cause of animal adoptions, rescues and sanctuaries.

Asher conveys his messages of good will toward abandoned animals, particularly dogs, on various channels, including, TikTok, YouTube and Facebook.

In the videos, Asher conveys the duality of emotions, alternating feelings of joy and sadness. But the common denominator in his stories of hope and resilience is that a rescued and adopted animal is capable of immeasurable love and loyalty if simply given a chance by prospective owners.

So, who is Lee Asher? Here are five things about the former star of the “My Pack Life” reality TV series.

More: Animal rescue icon Lee Asher, of Asher House, returns to Florida. See locations of his tour

1. Lee Asher lives in Oregon, but grew up in South Florida

Asher, 35, is a New York native who grew up in Broward County.

Today, Asher lives in the Salem, Oregon, region where he runs two animal sanctuaries and is affiliated with a third that, in total, care for an estimated 200 dogs, cats, horses, llamas and other animals.

One of those locations also happens to be his home, but which he said really belongs to his four-legged cohabitants.

“My home is the sanctuary. But it’s not my home because it really does belong to the animals,” he said. “And it’s beautiful because I get to live this life with animals.”

2. What led to creation of The Asher House

Asher struggled with severe attention deficit disorder as a youth, and was bullied. The inability to focus on lessons in textbooks and classroom lectures led to struggles in school, even in special-education classes, and isolated him socially.

He began visiting a Broward County animal shelter where he found solace, and kinship, with the dogs and cats in the kennels.

“When I was able to be with the dogs, and they would go from being scared in a corner to tail wagging and me petting them through the kennel and I could see them happy; seeing them happy just completely took all my pain away,” Asher recalled.

Asher began writing notes to the dogs and cats awaiting adoption or euthanasia, promising to one day provide them a home and secure future.

“These dogs had done nothing wrong. They were just unwanted,” Asher said. “It was a huge eye-opener to me how many of these amazing, beautiful dogs exude love like this — that could be the best dog you could ever have — how many of them are going to be euthanized if we don’t do something about it.”

Straight from Lee Asher: Animal rescue icon offers this advice for people wanting to adopt a shelter dog

3. Connections, and memories, led to a career and life change

Lee Asher of the Asher House.Lee Asher of the Asher House.

Lee Asher of the Asher House.

In 2017, Asher was working in the financial industry in Southern California. That’s when he said he decided on a radically different life path.

He sold his belongings, bought an RV and began a two-year odyssey in which he visited animal shelters with his own pack of nearly a dozen dogs. The 24-month road trip was then followed by another three years of intermittent travel that, all told, took him to 49 mainland U.S. states and large swaths of Canada. It also attracted Animal Planet producers — and the six-episode reality show “My Pack Life” aired in 2022.

The program spotlighted Asher’s effervescent, energetic and ebullient personality. But the stars were the dogs who best spoke to the mission: Adopt those loving but discarded and abandoned pets on animal death row.

A profile of Lee Asher: How animal rescue star lives his best pack life, and why he eyes Florida sanctuary

4. Asher: Humans can learn important lessons from animals

There is Lucy, a scarred golden retriever that was abused and abandoned, and Rain, the Dalmatian, who initially tried to bite Asher in a sensitive spot for men, and the four French bulldogs that he fervently negotiated away from a breeder intent on selling them. And scores and scores of others.

They are a number of dogs that Asher has spoken about with deep emotions.

One was Lilly, a St. Bernard that Asher said became his “rock” — the emotional ballast that kept him level at the most painful times.

Another is Matilda, a pit bull with a neurological disorder that makes her wobble as she walks. Despite the condition, which has markedly improved, Matilda has found acceptance at Asher’s sanctuary and he said she is an example that imperfection is no obstacle to love or happiness.

Another pit bull, Stella, he said taught him a critical lesson when she died.

“That truly made me realize you don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “Don’t waste a second, don’t waste a day. That gave me this new type of energy, this new type motivation to bring out the best of myself.”

Asher House expansion? Animal rescue icon Lee Asher eyes expanding his sanctuary concept across the U.S.

5. Adopting a pet: Invest time before money

The vast majority of animals in shelters, Asher insists, are not traumatized, starved or suffering extreme anxiety like the ones millions of Americans glimpse in television fundraising commercials aired by worthy animal rescues.

“People have to see that this dog they are seeing in a shelter largely came from a breeder,” he said. “It’s not like this dog was born in a shelter. This dog was thousands of dollars at one point.”

Each animal, though, has their own personality and idiosyncracies and Asher counsels people to spend time observing an animal before taking them home. Not rushing also permits a prospective owner to find a particular breed, if that is what they are looking for.

Give it a month to three months, he said, and the chances for a wonderful outcome are high.

Asher also advises the best way to start building trust with their dog, for example, is to be quiet at first.

His method, he said, is to be silent and spend “actual quality time” with the animal by observing them, seeing what triggers them, what they love, what they avoid and what they seek out. And to build the trust that allows him to train the animal and “influence them for a positive attitude.”

“I just want that dog to know I’m not going to hurt you, I’m not going to give up on you, I’m here for you no matter what,” he said. “And once that dog truly understands that, that’s when that beautiful bond starts to happen.”

Want to know more about The Asher House and Lee Asher?

Renowned animal rescue hero Lee Asher speaks to well-wishers after a talk at Lynn University.Renowned animal rescue hero Lee Asher speaks to well-wishers after a talk at Lynn University.

Renowned animal rescue hero Lee Asher speaks to well-wishers after a talk at Lynn University.

Asher will return to Florida in May for three speaking engagements taking place after the Memorial Day weekend.

The three events are:

  • Wednesday, May 29, at 8 p.m.: Florida Theater at 128 E. Forsyth St., Jacksonville. Ticket prices range from $36 to $101.

  • Thursday, May 30 at 8 p.m.: Hard Rock Live Orlando at 650 Universal Blvd. at CityWalk. Tickets range from $42 to $186.

  • Friday, May 31 at 8 p.m.: Ruth Eckerd Hall at 1111 N. McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Tickets are $49 and $69.

Antonio Fins is a politics and business editor at The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at [email protected]. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Who is Lee Asher? 5 things about animal rescue icon, The Asher House


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